Fri 30 Nov 2007
Anna- here’s my paper…i still have to fix the sources, but i have the basic structure down.
In striving to recognize manifest destiny, the United States government had run into one major setback- the Native Americans. Understandably, the Native Americans were not quite as eager to give up their ancestral lands as the American people were to take them. Conflict ensued, leading to governmental actions such as forcing tribes onto reservations or sending Native Americans to forts in the east so they would realize that resistance was futile. The endless fighting on the Plains had proved the failure of “relocation, segregation, and annihilation” so the government turned to new philosophies such as civilization and education to control the population. Brigadier General R. H. Pratt was one such promoter of Native American education. He advocated education and self-sufficiency for the Native Americans, and so “civilize the Indian through total immersion.” Through this, he hoped to assimilate the Native American into the white population and so end the ongoing Indian Wars. In 1879, the Department of the Interior and the War Department granted Pratt’s request to use the abandoned Carlisle Barracks to house an Indian School based on assimilation and immersion. At this school, the children of Native American leaders were taken to be taught the ways of the white man. Their hair was cut, their clothes taken, their traditional names changed to “acceptable” Christian names. Pratt’s goal was to “kill the Indian, save the man” and he adhered to this ideal with great conviction. He especially encouraged further education at institutions of higher learning. Some students elected to attend Dickinson College, which offered admission to those students who had completed additional college preparatory courses at the college’s preparatory school, Conway Hall. These students and their activities while enrolled provide insight into the effects of the college on the Native American’s continued journey towards assimilation.
Of the many students who attended the Indian School, only ten attended Dickinson. This is probably a reflection of the Indian School’s transition in 1904 from a college preparatory curriculum to one that was more trade based. This transition was inspired by the dismissal of Pratt as the head administrator and the appointment of others who lacked Pratt’s “talent and conviction” However, during first few years of the twentieth century, Native American students studied, worked, and succeeded at Dickinson. One such student was a Sioux named Thomas Marshall, whose courses of study, campus activities, and impact on students indicated a Native American who was fully assimilated into Anglican culture.
According to Dickinson’s 1905 Alumni Directory, he was born on February 15, 1876 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska to Joseph and Elizabeth Marshall. Interestingly, in the 1900 Microcosm, Marshall’s residence is listed as being Kyle, South Dakota. During this time, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs declared that all Native Americans who refused to live on a reservation would be arrested. Since the Sioux reservation was located in South Dakota, Marshall’s parents would have been a part of the mass migration of the Native Americans from their traditional lands to government reservations. Marshall was said to have exhibited “unusual intellectual ability,” an indication of the prejudice against the ‘savage’ Native Americans. He was sent to the Friend’s School, a Native American school in the west, and then to the Carlisle Indian School. While at the school, he was named president of their YMCA chapter, a reflection of his Episcopal upbringing.  Marshall’s parents were Christian, meaning that the process of Anglicizing him would have been much easier when compared to his Native American peers who were often raised in a more traditional manner. The fact that his father, who was deemed an important member of the tribe in the April 28, 1899 edition of the Dickinsonian Weekly, was also a devout Christian is additionally indicative of the widespread effects of the ‘civilizing’ efforts of missionaries and persons such as Pratt.
When Marshall entered Dickinson in 1896, he was one of the first two Native American students to ender the college. His preparatory education had obviously made sure that he was well versed in Anglican culture. Upon his enrollment, Marshall, like other freshmen, had to select a course of study from the four options offered. These courses were akin to today’s majors and were Latin, Latin Scientific, Modern Language, and Scientific. Marshall selected Latin Scientific. The curriculum dictated for this course involved the study of Latin, French, math and English during the student’s first year. His second year, he studied Latin, math, rhetoric, the history of England, political science, German, physiology and hygiene and French. Junior year, psychology, English, physics, chemistry and economics dominated Marshall’s schedule, with additional lab work and electives selected from Latin, German, math, biology and botany, history, the English Bible and pedagogy. During his senior and final year, he would have selected from classes in ethics, Christian evidences, astronomy, oratory, the major sciences, Latin, and history. Additionally, Marshall joined the Dickinson College YMCA and was granted the honor of being a delegate to the annual Student’s World Conference held in Northfield, Massachusetts. As described in the article YMCA in the May 1, 1897 issue of the Dickinsonian Weekly, the Northfield Delegation, as it was also called, was a conference where “three representitives from colleges and universities from all Christian lands [met] and [were] addressed on the various departments of Christian work, together with devotional gatherings to quicken a renewed life and to deepen the Christian experience.” For a Native American to be selected as one of Dickinson’s representatives was a bold move, and shows the college’s opinion of Marshall as a ‘credit to his race.’ Marshall was also permitted to enter one of the Dickinson’s literary societies, the Union Philosophical Society. There are no racial restrictions listed in the Society’s 1893 Constitution and By-Laws, and it is a sign that Marshall was indeed accepted as an assimilated student that he joined the exclusive group. In short, all of his courses and campus activities would have further promoted Christian and traditionally Western ideals, giving him all the knowledge deemed essential for an Anglican-American, all the while completely neglecting traditional Native American culture and knowledge.
While Marshall’s education from the time he was a child worked to assimilate him into Anglican culture, students at Dickinson still expressed surprise when his ‘savage’ brain produced any work of value. During his freshman year, he was honored with the Dare Prize of $20 for the best examination for entrance in the Latin Scientific Course. The November 14, 1896 issue of the Dickinsonian Weekly proudly stated that “especial praise is due the last named since he is one of the first two Indian students who have entered the college proper.” Indeed, although there were no direct references to racial issues among the students on campus, this statement clearly indicates that white students were surprised that a Native American was capable of the same levels of achievement. The presence of native peoples on campus generated interest among the students about the Native Americans and their school, which was less then two miles from the college. Indeed, in the October 24, 1896 issue of the Dickinsonian Weekly, On the Campus tells of the new volunteer Sunday School teachers from the college chapter of the YMCA, and further declares that those who have Indian boys “enjoy a rare privilege. The work is doubly interesting because one can be studying the characteristics of his scholars, at the same time learning many valuable lessons in methods of teaching.” In addition, at the time of the Indian School commencement, it was traditional for a half day holiday to be given so Dickinson students could attend the “very interesting exercises.” The Native Americans were of great interest to the students of Dickinson, and through their interactions with Marshall and other native students like him, served to further Anglicize and assimilate the once proud people into the newly dominant culture.
Unfortunately, Thomas Marshall died during his junior year on April 24, 1899. He died of the measles, a common affliction among the Native Americans. An article in the April 28, 1899 issue of Dickinsonian Weekly contains a resolution by the junior class, to be sent to Marshall’s parents in South Dakota, which held that Marshall was well liked by the students and faculty, and that the Wednesday chapel would be in his honor. Had he been able to finish his education, he most probably would have graduated and continued his life in the East, as so many Native American students did, ignorant of their true culture and traditions. While Dickinson College’s impact on Marshall was to solidify his assimilation into Anglican culture, Marshall’s impact on the students of Dickinson was mostly to show that Native Americans were not the savage beasts so often depicted in the popular culture of the time. Through his accomplishments, Marshall was able to prove the competency of native peoples and dispel the aura of inferiority associated with non-white cultures. In the process, however, he lost touch with the culture of his birth, as so many children did, and so furthered the degradation of the Native American culture.